The Rewild Adventure Guide

I’ve started work on a book that will sum up a lot of the basic games and exercises I teach here (and at TrackersNW workshops). I’ve decided to start putting up excerpts of early drafts. Things may change quite a bit, according to feedback I get and also collaboration with my illustrator Kristen Dullum. Check out her work.

An excerpt from Chapter Two:

To even touch the wild place, somehow we have to get to silence. You know what I mean – when you see wind rushing through tree branches, rain hitting a puddle, a bird rocking back and forth on a swinging power line, black against the sky. All these beings live in a ‘silent’, nonverbal world. Our power of language and thought enables us to do amazing things, but our obsession with it in these latter ages has sundered us from our wild relatives. Somehow we need to reopen that commonality of silence again. Fortunately, I have just the thing.

The Sensory Tune-in Game

This game you can play by yourself or with others, standing in a circle, anytime and anyplace – waiting for a bus, talking at a cafe, out at a park, anywhere!

If alone, direct yourself silently in your mind through the instructions. If in a group, choose one person to lead the others.

0. In this game you want to stay conscious of as many of your five senses as possible, all simultaneously. Once you can do all five, you want to increase the amount of sensations in each sense. In brackets you’ll find directions for different ways of increasing the sensations and challenge. Don’t worry about memorizing the exact words for directing people through each sense, but do note the phrasing, known as ‘pace and lead’. You don’t want to pop the experiential bubble by bossing folks around, you want to gently lead the way. Count silently to 8 seconds when transitioning from one of the 5 senses to another.

1. Owl eyes:  “Pick a distant point in front of you, and park the center of your vision there. As you begin to focus on that point, you can also notice the very edges of your vision, both all the way to the left, and all the way to the right. As your vision spreads out to each side, you can also begin to notice all the way up and down, all simultaneously. Now, as you see everything, all at once, in one great panorama, shadow and light, color and empty spaces, you can….”[notice negative spaces, the empty shapes formed by the crossing of tree branches etc. – how many shades of x color do you see – memorize the whole scene so you can draw it – what smallest detail do you notice – what have you missed – ]

2. Deer ears: “…Now hear all the sounds, all around you in  full circle, in a sphere, each one a separate sound, each one a separate note, or rhythm, or percussion…[ – hear the music in the sounds, as a symphony played them – what quietest sound do you hear? quieter than that? – pick a sound that you consider one thing, and separate it out into its sub-notes and rhythms – ]

3. Raccoon hands: “…”….as you continue to see everything, all at once….and hear…all the sounds, you can now begin to notice the feelings in your body…the movement of air against your skin, the clothes on your body, the pressure of the earth against your feet…the expanse of your back like a big reflector dish, receiving and sending ripples of feeling to, and from, all around you…[- offer out the palms of your hands moving them in an arc around you, feeling for changes in heat and sensation on them, like metal detector wands at the airport – how do different objects and directions around you make you feel, in your belly? in your heart? -]

4. Dog nose: “….as you continue to see everything, all at once….and hear…all the sounds…and feel, all the feelings…you can now begin to notice the smells…how many do scents do you detect…and which direction to they come from…and how close their source…[- what faintest smell do you smell? – how many scent notes can you pick apart from whole smells? – does taking big sniffs make your more sensitive, or do tiny puffs, like a dog? – ]

5. Snail tongue: “…as you continue to see everything, all at once….and hear…all the sounds…and feel, all the feelings…and smell, all the smells…you can now begin to notice the taste of your tongue in your mouth…” [ – do you taste salt? sour? sweet? bitter? how much of each? – ]

6. At some point during this game you may feel your world fuzz over a  bit, as your senses overwhelm your mind, and put you in a dream place. So much for drugs, eh? Who needs ’em! Make this fuzzy place a goal, every time you do this exercise: perservere until you achieve the dreamy state. This will work the edge of your sensory ability, and make it a little stronger, each time.

Play this game over and over, and every time, learn something new…anything! If you look for it, you’ll find it.  Demand a discovery every time! And then blog about it! What improvements to the game have you innovated? What new sensory questions and challenges have you added to the game? Share with us.

Written by Willem